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ISBN/ASIN : 0310211271
Manufacturer : Zondervan|
Release data : 02 September, 1996
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Good book to open the mind about the power of God today
I've been a Christian 20 years and never really explored the gifts of the spirit. In fact, I once had back surgery during this time and it didn't even cross my mind to go to ask for healing prayer to see if God would heal me so that I wouldn't need surgery! I go to a wonderful church that is open to the gifts, but they just kind of keep them "in the back room" so to speak. I did believe God can heal if he wanted, since I would never tie God's hands in that way, but this book opened my mind that God wants his power to be revealed regularly out of love for his children, to glorify his son, and to win souls. I now believe, if you seek the gifts, you will find God was waiting for you to move in ways you have not experienced before. I found the last few chapters about God's motives for revealing himself miraculously most moving.
I'm not sure why there are a few stinging reviews of this book. In fact, I like Jack Deere's tone, since he came from a cessationist point of view and has a "skeptics" tone throughout the book, but then answers his own questions with his experience and new theology. I also like that he is a scholar at heart as a former Dallas Theological Seminary professor. So, he's a thinker, not just a feeler/experiencer type person. I liked this tone, since there has been such abuse of the gifts I want to approach them with wisdom to know when they are being abused and discard that practice or theology. I don't want to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Or, as my pastor said, if you find a bone in the chicken of the gifts, spit out only the bone. Looking as some of John MacArthur's rebukes of the Pentecostal and Charasmatic movement (I went to MacArthur's church a few times in LA), they really focus on the abuses and conclude to throw out the gifts completely due to these abuses. I think a better response is to refine the gifts and remove the bones! Didn't Paul have to do this when it appears some of the churches were having non-edifying gatherings speaking in tongues with no interpretation? We should expect to constantly have to remove those bones when it comes to the gifts!
I recommend two other book from people just like Jack Deere. Both are professors and were former cessationists. One is The Kingdom Triangle by J.P. Moreland. This book turned me onto the gifts since he spoke at our church about this book and he took me by surprise that he now had a charasmatic vein in him (I had heard him speak at my church many times before and he always came across as a very learned academic Christian so I respected his mind). I've now come to learn he considers himself a Third Wave Christian. I sense many in the Third Wave movement want this movement to be about returning God's power to ministry and evangelism, but to make sure those bones (bad theology/bad practices) are removed this time around, where Pentecostals and Charasmatics (the first and second wave) often had too many bones in the chicken of the gifts! The second book is Christianity with Power by Charles Kraft. I also got to hear him speak recently and I laughed at his joke about how he said "I used to believe God died in the second century". His friend, and fellow professor, Peter Wagner, coined the term "Third Wave". They both were converted about the same time to believe God wants his miraculous power today in ministry and evangelism. This book is about his personal story about believing in the gifts, just as Surprised by the Power of the Spirit is Jack Deere's story.
May God bless your search to know and experience God in deeper ways to the encouragement of your soul, the souls of your brothers and sisters in Christ, and to the souls of those seeking God but have yet to enter the Kingdom. This book is a good first step in that direction.
Imperfect but worth reading...
I stumbled upon Jack Deere's account of his rather dramatic mid-1980s transition from cessationism to continuationism as I was doing research for a seminary paper on cessationism. I was immediately gripped by his engaging story-telling and quickly surprised by the compelling nature of his arguments.
Ultimately, Deere makes a very solid case that cessationism, though espoused by those committed to the Bible (rather than charismatics who are supposedly more committed to experience and emotion), essentially stands on very shaky biblical ground. Deere suggests that a novice Christian, placed in a room with a Bible for a few days or weeks, would inevitably emerge a committed continuationist, never a cessationist. Cessationism requires careful theological and rhetorical tricks and must be trained into a person. And after searching for the biblical basis for cessationism from Warfield, Hodge, and others, I found his point to be well-founded. Quite frankly, cessationism seems to require significant extrapolation beyond the text of the Scriptures.
Though I enjoyed Deere's writing style and found his approach to be insightful, I have two primary and significant critiques. First, just as cessationists tend to argue against a charismatic straw man who doesn't actually exist, Deere seems to often make the same mistake and argue against a heartless, intellectually-obsessed cessationist that is surely the rarest of exceptions, rather than the norm. It was disappointing when he stooped to the level of arguing with a straw man of his own construction (though his situation as a former cessationist does give him the unique insider information to actually construct arguments against his former self).
I was also disappointed with the conclusions that he drew concerning the next steps for anyone in the midst of this theological conundrum. Quite honestly, his tone was sometimes rather condescending and arrogant in relation to cessationists. Though he was careful at other times to maintain a humble spirit, he seemed to ultimately suggest that anyone who doesn't fully embrace his newfound theological position isn't really experiencing an authentic expression of Christianity. It's one thing to try to help people discover something valuable that God has shown you. It's another thing, and decidedly less helpful, to imply that anyone who doesn't make the jump with you is silly or unintelligent or unspiritual.
Ultimately, I'm glad I read this book. I began the book without a firm position on the issue, but I would have considered myself a practical cessationist. After reading it (and reading from several cessationist authors, as well), I no longer find cessationism to be a teneble, viable position. Regardless of your personal stance, I recommend this book for all thoughtful Christians who want to wrestle with the implications of how the Spirit empowers us to live in the here and now.
At last the whole Jesus ministry!
First, I found the book amazingly easy to read. Deere weaves stories and personal experience with sharp Biblical insight to make a case for healing and miracles in modern times. He also gently dismantles manmade theological systems that did little more than give us an excuse for our powerlessness. No rancor. No biting accusations. Jesus went into communities to preach the Kingdom, heal the sick and free people from spiritual oppression. Deere simply and humbly makes the case that we can, and should, do the same. Powerful book. Powerful ideas.